Book – About Joy Bergman: “Oh, they broke the mold when they made that one. People who loved her said it, people who did not love her said it, too, for the same reason.” I fall into the former category. Joy is in her eighties and caring for her beloved husband Aaron, who has dementia along with other serious health issues. They are New Yorkers and Joy misses their daughter, Molly, who is living in California with her wife. Their son, Daniel, still lives close by, with his wife and their two young daughters. This story is about family and the ties that bind us during good times and bad. It highlights the issues we are forced to confront as we age, both from the perspective of the parents and their children. Schine, who also wrote The Three Weissmanns of Westport, explores these themes as she relates and finds humor in the most ordinary conundrums and routines. Joy laments about her physical deterioration, defends her take-out order meals and is determined to remain independent and upbeat. Molly feels guilty about living far away and she and Daniel search for ways (with sometimes hilarious results) to reassure Joy about her importance in their lives. Joy enjoys a special bond with her grandchildren and acknowledges that although she loves being in the midst of her family, she also finds them exhausting. This book reminded me that despite the differences in our individual circumstances, there is a shared commonality in our experiences as we face life’s transitions.
Books – Whether the sun is finally shining bright, or you’re cooped up inside because of the restless weather, these two reads are perfect for relaxing indoors and out. Save one for the beach, and one for the rain!
Meet Cannie Shapiro, a quirky young woman navigating through her twenties. A talented reporter for the Philadelphia Examiner, Cannie has made a good life for herself, and her adorable pup, Nifkin. Things might not be perfect, but that’s life, right? Until her ex-boyfriend Bruce humiliated her by publishing an article about her, titled: “Loving a Larger Woman.” Somehow, the article manages to catapult miserable Cannie into the best time of her life. With surprises around every corner, could Bruce’s article actually be the best thing to ever happen to Cannie?
Copygirl by Anna Mitchael and Michelle Sassa
Described as “Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada,” this book was obviously at the top of my list. Kay works at a prestigious ad agency in New York City, an incredible opportunity. But it’s hard being a girl in a sea of frat-boy office bros. At least she has her work partner Ben, a close friend from college who she’s also secretly in love with. While the guys are off living the glamorous life of partying and girls, Kay is working hard to dream up the perfect pitches. Lately though, her work just hasn’t been paying off, and her boss is breathing down her neck with threats of replacing her. The last thing Kay wants is to be a copygirl, but things are going downhill fast. Does she have what it takes to make it to the top?
Book – If you have any interest in mystery, historical fiction, New York City, Holmesiana or just plain well-written human drama, Lyndsay Faye is the author you never knew you needed in your life. Unless you did, in which case well done you.
Timothy Wilde is a New York City bartender in 1845, lending an ear to the world’s problems and working up the courage to confess his love for his childhood sweetheart, Mercy. When a fire does away with his job and his life savings, however, he stumbles his way (pushed by his brother, the larger-than-life, twice as troublesome and three times as irresistible Val) into the work he never wanted but always should’ve had: as a ‘copper star,’ a member of New York’s brand-new police force. A chance encounter with a ten-year-old girl in a blood-covered nightgown puts him on the trail that ends in the bodies of twenty children and sends the entire city into a flurry of tension along racial, ethnic and especially religious lines. And while his determination to find the truth will make an investigator of Tim, it will also challenge his preconceptions about the people he loves.
Written in rich period language (a glossary is included), The Gods of Gotham is a fast-paced and atmospheric thriller that stands on its own merits as both a mystery and a piece of historical fiction. But what makes it exceptional are Faye’s writing style and command of human nature. Her prose is insightful, incisive and deeply felt, and her characters memorable and well-rounded. New devotees will be pleased to hear that Tim’s adventures continue in Seven for a Secret and the recent conclusion to the trilogy, The Fatal Flame.
Book – There is something about the extravagant mansions of the early industrialists that elicits morbid curiosity. In Empty Mansions : the mysterious life of Huguette Clark and the spending of a great American fortune true stories about some eccentric mansions and the people that lived in them are revealed. This bestselling book is written by Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Dedman, and a cousin of the heiress Huguette Clark, Paul Clark Newell, Jr. The mystery of Hugette’s life required an extra bit of investigative work on the authors’ parts because Hugette was shy and very reclusive. She passed away in 2011 at the age of 105.
I found the story of Huguette’s father, W.A. Clark, impressive. He was a risk-taking pioneer in Montana that worked his way up to becoming wealthier than Rockefeller during his lifetime. Unfortunately, his copper mining business also began widespread damage upon the Montana ecosystem. The large fortune he left to Hugette provided her the opportunity to make some outrageous decisions in how she chose to spend it.
Book – Fin & Lady is a story about love and finding your family. When young Fin is orphaned, his free-spirited half-sister Lady becomes his legal guardian. Practical Fin and glamorous Lady have only spent a brief time together previously, but Fin adores her. They move to New York City and become part of the counter-culture of the sixties. Fin struggles to understand Lady’s turbulent relationships with several admirers and the new world around him. A cast of entertaining characters including the admirers, a spunky housemaid and a gentle dog move the story through many humorous situations. Lady is obsessed with being “free,” and this book explores what being “free” and loving someone really means. If you enjoy books by Elinor Lipman, you may enjoy this book centered on a family dealing with unconventional situations. I found this book to be a delightful read, with interesting dilemmas and some laugh-out-loud moments. Cathleen Schine also wrote The Three Weissmanns of Westport.